AG Coakley Sues Danvers Man for Soliciting Illegal Fees From Homeowners for Foreclosure Services
Former Bank of America Loan Officer Misrepresented Himself as Attorney; Took Illegal Fees in Violation of the Attorney General's Foreclosure Rescue Regulations
"Homeowners who were struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments went to their lender seeking expert advice and we allege that those homeowners were mislead and taken advantage of," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Under first-in-the-nation regulations that our office issued, it is illegal for a mortgage professional to require up-front fees to assist struggling homeowners. Our office will continue to hold accountable individuals and businesses who attempt to exploit struggling homeowners in this unfair and deceptive manner."
The complaint, filed late last week in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Hayes, the owner and principal of Danvers-based Foreclosure Alternatives, sought to capitalize on the foreclosure crisis by targeting and preying upon Massachusetts residents facing imminent loss of their homes. The complaint alleges Hayes claimed that he could help homeowners seeking assistance for a loan modification if they hired him and his business, Foreclosure Alternatives. Hayes would then deceptively funnel loan modification requests originally directed to Bank of America to his personal company, Foreclosure Alternatives. The Attorney General's investigation revealed that Hayes, through his company, demanded up to $1,500 in up-front fees, before negotiating loan modifications to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Such advance fees are illegal under the foreclosure rescue regulations issued in 2007 by the Attorney General's Office to combat various unfair business practices that target homeowners facing foreclosure. The complaint also alleges that Hayes told some borrowers that he was an attorney with Bank of America when in fact he was a mortgage broker.
A hearing on the Attorney General's motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for April 14, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. in Suffolk Superior Court.
The Attorney General's Office encourages homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgages on time to speak directly with their lenders or servicers about the prospects of obtaining an affordable loan modification. Homeowners can also seek free assistance from non-profit organizations in their communities. Attorney General Coakley continues to advocate for lenders to consider loss mitigation measures such as loan modifications as an alternative to foreclosure, which benefits both the borrower and the lender.
Assistant Attorneys General Geraldine Aine and Amber Anderson Villa of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division are handling this matter, with assistance from Investigator Jake Harney.